OBD-II Automotive data logging


[Avi Aisenberg] sent us his final project for ece 4760.  His team built and OBD-II data interface. Even though OBD-II is an industry standard, each manufacturer has implemented it differently. This is where this project shines. They have built it to be capable of talking to any of them. Not only that, but it has a nice backlit LCD screen for diagnosing issues without having to go back to your computer and downloading the data. If you really don’t need all the bells and whistles, you can make one for roughly $15. They even have an OBD-II app for the iPhone.

26 thoughts on “OBD-II Automotive data logging

  1. i think it would be much better if there was some original work done. for example if they dove deep into the manufacturer specific codes that live below OBD-II.

    Notice how they state “any car” that’s because OBD-II standard isnt quite standard when it comes to heavy duty trucks that have obd-II. (try to scan a F-250 powerstroke 99-03). The physical specs are complaint and some of the symbols are. nothing else is though.

    Other than those gripes, nice project.

  2. Original work? Looks pretty good to me; I don’t see homemade OBD code readers of any kind just floating around. Quit your griping, what do you want for $15.00 worth of parts?

  3. having built the same for the ISO/VPWM/PWM/CAN/KW2000 protocols, let me say that using the ELM chip is cheating. Takes all the fun out of it (and difficulty). But glad to see people playing with this stuff.

  4. what i meant by original work was not using a an elm chip which does most of the work. Not using someone elses code lib to control the screen. Not using a prefab pcb. Not much is original. obd-II readers already exist, there are plenty of AVR based OBD-II projects, some even use the 90scan models. There are bit-bang versions which use standard 339’s tied to the parallel port. etc.

    Maybe i’m old school but for a univeristy project i would expect more than plugging parts together.
    i think it would be more impressive from a 15 year kid not someone in a university.

    I’m with reza- it seems like cheating.

  5. At the 400 level in ECE, they’d better be able to do more than plug parts together. On the other hand, if they were going to reinvent the wheel for every project, I’d suggest finding a new career path. Given the time constraints of a project like this (other coursework to do, beers to drink, etc), I think they went about it the right way.

    I don’t like how they didn’t list a per-unit expected price, though their budgeted costs are listed as $59.54. ATMEGA644 ($4.58), MAX233A ($6.26), and ELM327 ($35) they sampled are a significant portions of the costs of building your own.

  6. Steve, I agree with you. I did a project for my senior design very similar to this but added a GPS receiver, blue tooth radio, accelerometer, gyro and my own GUI. Even with the addition of all that the project was still not very original.

  7. This is a pretty cool project for a semester’s worth of work (3-months from start to finish) considering all the other stuff that’s going on when you’re at school. Low on the innovation scale, but so what? It seems the project is very well documented and it actually do something very useful, unlike a lot of school projects.

  8. So they built an OBD reader using a reference board/schematic freely available on ELM’s website, using a prefab chip that does 99% of the heavy lifting, and added a few buttons and an LCD?

    A “hack” indeed.

  9. Ok, so they’re just students, but this project is a bit of a joke really. They bought an off the shelf chip (the ELM327) and wired it up to an LCD display ?

    My 12 year old niece could do this on her own…

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